Dames Point Bridge and Park

The Dames Point Bridge (also known as the Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Bridge or Dame Point Bridge) spans the St. Johns River northeast of downtown Jacksonville, Florida. Two miles long, and 175 feet above the main channel of the river, the Dames Point Bridge connects northern Duval County with the Arlington and Beaches area of Jacksonville via Florida Highway 9A. Opened to traffic in 1989, it is a premier example of the beautiful simplicity of the cable-stayed bridge. 

      

      

Bridge's Eastern Side ~ Bridge's Western Side ~ One Point Perspective from Park ~ One Point Perspective from Dames Point Road ~ Northern Tower and Palmetto Tree ~ Looking Upriver from a Mile Away ~ Full Span ~ Underneath Center Facing North ~ Northern Tower from Mid-Channel ~ Southern Tower and Quarantine Island ~ Southern Approach and Span ~ Northern Tower 

Small images link you to larger (20-32kb) and differently proportioned image files. 

This magnificent structure should become to Jacksonville what the Golden Gate Bridge, Gateway Arch, or Sydney Opera House have become to their respective cities: towering symbols of vibrance and individuality which evoke the unique history of their location. From miles away, Dames Point's graceful diagonal support cables look like the sails of a behemoth phantom clipper ship coming into harbor. For five thousand years, humans have navigated this passage in everything from dugout canoes to aircraft carriers. Today, this modern colossus stands guard, an elegant entrance to or exit from the pitching slate-blue infinity of the Atlantic. 

Click here for links to other pictures and info about the bridge.  


Facts about Dames Point Bridge

Dimensions and Structural Specifics

America's longest cable-stayed bridge is two miles long, and 175 feet above the main channel of the river. The central span of the bridge is 1300 feet between the two towers which are 471 feet above the waterline at the top. The tower verticals are 7.25 feet thick and 35 feet wide at road level and 15 feet wide at the pinnacle. Dames Point's foundations extend roughly 80 feet beneath the surface of the St. John's River. The dredged channel underneath the bridge is 38 feet deep at high tide. 

Dames Point Bridge carries six lanes of traffic on a deck 106 feet wide. 

The concrete and steel deck is suspended by 168 steel cables which extend from the towers and connect to the edge girder of the span at 35 foot intervals. The cables consist of steel cable sheathed within steel pipe. The longest cable is 720 feet long, the shortest 65. Twenty-one miles of steel cables are used overall. Over 94,000 cubic yards of concrete were used. 

Superlatives and Firsts

The Dames Point Bridge is the longest concrete cable-stayed bridge in the United States. It was the second cable-stayed bridge to be built in Florida (Tampa Bay's Sunshine Skyway was completed in 1984). It is the only bridge in the United States to feature the harp (parallel) stay arrangement on two vertical planes, a design which rivals suspension bridges for strength and beauty. A concrete pouring milestone was set during the construction of the nothern pier foundation, as almost 19,000 cubic yards of concrete was continuously poured for 47 straight hours. 

History of The Bridge

The Dames Point Bridge proposal was first studied in 1976. The firm of Howard Needles Tammen & Bergendoff was hired by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to design the main span. Plans were finalized and construction bids went out in 1979. Hurricane force wind endurance and stability, use of Florida materials, shipping concerns and aesthetics were some of the principle design considerations. 

The slumping bond market of the early 1980's caused the Dames Point Project to be shelved for financial reasons until 1983-84 when new construction bids went out. The $47 million contract was awarded to a joint venture of the Pensacola and Tyger Construction Companies. 

Construction commenced in 1985. The main span was completed in July 1988. No one was killed during the construction. The bridge opened for highway traffic in 1989. 

The bridge is now maintained by the Jacksonville Transit Authority, and will be the centerpiece of the Interstate 295 perimeter highway around Jacksonville, which is still under construction. 

From the beginning, Dames Point levied no toll, signalling the advent of Jacksonville's rejection of toll bridges and roads. 

Anecdotal stories and/or personal experiences about the bridge would be greatly appreciated, especially if you worked on the construction or have any kind of insight at all please e-mail me at kkstrong@mindspring.com and I will try to include it on this page. 
Please share any information you have . My areas of interest are general anecdotal information and pictures. If you have good pictures, I can put them on the net and give you credit. 

Dames Point Park

is the best place to view the bridge up close. The park is maintained by the City of Jacksonville and has parking, picnic area, pavillion, observation/fishing pier, and restrooms. There is no fee, and I forgot to check the hours so I am assuming sunrise to sunset is probably a safe bet. 
 

To get to the park, exit off Florida 9A at the Heckscher Drive exit. Immediately west of the 9A interchange on Heckscher is the intersection with New Berlin Road. Head south (towards the bridge) on New Berlin. Drive less than a mile to the intersection of Dames Point Road. Turn right onto Dames Point Road. At the end of the road is the park. 

At the park, be sure to stand directly under the bridge and look north to view a majestic one point perspective of columns diminishing off to the vanishing point. 

 

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This was page originally published June 8, 1997. It was last updated on March 25, 1998. I welcome you to link the page but do ask that you e-mail me with the URL of your page. 
 

© 1997 Mike Strong